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Three anti-abortion advocates affiliated with the pro-life religious group Red Rose Rescue (RRR) were found guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree, a misdemeanor, following a three-day trial at White Plains City Court.
The six-person, all-female jury found Matthew Connolly, 40, of Minnesota; William Goodman, 52, of Wisconsin and Christopher Moscinski, 52, of the Bronx, each guilty of unlawfully trespassing and remaining at All Women’s Health and Medical Services on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains on Nov. 27 of last year.
With the goal of preventing patients from receiving access to medical care, particularly abortion-related services, the three remained at the office for two hours, despite being told to leave numerous times by staff and dispatched White Plains police officers.
“The District Attorney’s Office will vigorously prosecute any criminal acts that interfere with an individual’s constitutional right to freely access healthcare,” Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah said in a press release following the trial. “There are no insignificant cases when it comes to the protection of reproductive rights.”
Through police body camera and security footage — as well as witness testimony from two police officers who responded to the incident and Constance Considine, chief administrator at All Women’s Health and Medical Services — it was confirmed that the individuals gained entry into the medical office through deception, using a female accomplice who made a fake appointment to gather information.
Due to the pandemic, All Women’s Health and Medical Services does not let any individuals accompany patients who have an appointment, which was communicated to the female accomplice when she first buzzed in. However, Goodman and Moscinski accompanied the female accomplice, who first walked into the office’s reception area upstairs before the two followed soon after.
Despite an employee communicating to the two that they could not enter the office and attempting to block them using her body, Goodman and Moscinski chose to not listen, went upstairs and sat in the waiting room instead. There, they remained for two hours before being escorted out by the police.
While Goodman and Moscinski remained upstairs, Connolly held the door to the facility open downstairs, where a small group of men and women were gathered singing and praying.
Police officers told the three men countless times that they were trespassing on private property and, if they did not leave, they would be arrested.
Goodman, the only defendant who took to the stand during the trial, said they communicated to the officers that they would leave only on the condition that medical operations at the office be stopped. On body camera footage, Moscinski could be heard saying once we leave, business will continue — alluding to their ultimate goal of disrupting operations.
Goodman said he gave the staff an opportunity to choose to stop their operations, which, the prosecution underscored, was a refusal to cooperate with the officers’ request. Because none of the three individuals would leave, police officers ultimately had to arrest the men, handcuffing them and carrying them out.
Throughout the trial, Assistant District Attorney Celia Curtis remained steadfast that Goodman, Moscinski and Connolly knowingly and unlawfully trespassed and remained on private property with the goal of preventing medical operations from continuing that day.
However, the three defendants’ attorney, Steve Anduze, attempted to justify the criminal trespass based on the moral conscience and religious mission that guided his defendants’ actions.
Anduze said the defendants were carrying out “their duty” to protect mothers and the unborn, advocating pro-life options to patients by giving them roses and pamphlets. In cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses, Anduze asked if the defendants acted violently, threatened staff and patients or damaged property, which the witnesses said they did not.
However, Curtis highlighted that the defendants were not charged with harassment, criminal mischief or petit larceny — pulling the focus back to their sole charge: criminal trespass.
Additionally, Curtis reiterated the emotional distress the three defendants caused to staff and patients on Nov. 27. For the two hours that Goodman and Moscinski remained in the waiting room and Connolly held the door open downstairs, staff escorted incoming patients away from them and into the medical office for their safety.
At multiple junctures throughout the trial, Anduze attempted to contend that All Women’s Health and Medical Services was operating illegally by offering abortion after 24 weeks.
Judge John Collins, who presided over the trial, underscored that New York passed the Reproductive Health Act in 2019, which codified Roe v. Wade protections into state law and legalized abortion after 24 weeks if a pregnant individual’s health or life is at risk. As a result, Collins said Anduze’s argument was not cogent.
Throughout the trial and while the verdict was read out, pro-life supporters from RRR and another group called Catholic Renegades were in attendance, praying on rosary beads during court proceedings. Trial updates were regularly posted to RRR’s Facebook page.
On March 9, Moscinski and Goodman were also found guilty of trespassing at Capitol Women’s Services in Washington, D.C. on May 14, 2020. Moscinski is also facing felony charges following another clinic trespass in Pennsylvania.
“This verdict allows us, in some small way, to be more closely aligned to our poor sisters and brothers in the womb who are being wantonly ignored by the courts and rejected by so many people in our nation,” Goodman said in a Facebook post following the verdict in White Plains. ”In response to the jury’s condemnation, we offer them only forgiveness.”
Anduze declined a request to comment on the verdict.
Also in attendance for the entirety of the trial were staff members from WCLA – Choice Matters, a pro-choice advocacy organization.
“In this time of unprecedented court attacks on abortion rights, it is essential to remember these assaults impact people right here in Westchester County,” Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, president of WCLA — Choice Matters, said. “These terrorists forced their way into a reproductive healthcare facility, frightening patients and putting needed medical care at risk.”
“The six-woman jury spoke loud and clear when it rendered the guilty verdict in under 30 minutes,” Lederer-Plaskett continued. “Now the real work begins. We must make sure these criminals get more than a slap on the wrist.”
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Collins on June 20.
If convicted, they could serve up to 3 months in jail and pay a fine of up to $500. In lieu of jail time, the court may order the defendants up to one year of probation.
Bailey has journalism experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties and New York City on topics related to LGBTQ+ issues, women’s rights, climate change, the environment, and local politics. They have been a full-time reporter with Examiner Media since July 2021. Read more details from Bailey’s bio here. Read Bailey’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/baileyhosfelt/